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Henry Barnes (1818–1896)

by Louise T. Daley

This article was published:

Henry Barnes (1818-1896), pastoralist and stud-master, was born on 6 February 1818 at Low Braithwaite, Cumberland, England, one of the thirteen children of Robert Barnes, farmer, and his wife Sarah, née Sparke. He was educated at Bolton Gate School where he excelled in book-keeping, mathematics and the principles of land measurement. His training in agriculture, land usage and the selection and management of stock came from his father's family who were skilful cattlemen. In 1840, with a reference as a 'Practical English farmer' signed by several ministers and yeoman farmers of Cumberland, Barnes migrated to New South Wales, where his first job was superintendent of Tremayne station near Broke for Robert Rodd. Hired as overseer at Casino cattle station on the isolated Richmond River by his countryman, Clark Irving, in 1843 he soon proved his ability in all emergencies while helping in Irving's vast cattle-buying operations.

In 1854 when Barnes's unusual skill in managing cattle was recognized he accepted the invitation of Alexander Frederick Bundock, of Dyraaba, Stratheden and Gordon Brook stations, to become the working partner in the proposed firm of Bundock, Barnes & Co., formed for the purpose of importing pure sires and raising the standard of station cattle. Thomas Hawkins Smith later replaced R. G. Massie as the third partner, and in 1862, when Bundock returned to England, Henry Flesher Smith joined the firm, then known locally as Barnes & Smith Brothers. Barnes moved to Dyraaba in charge of the Richmond River herds. In the early 1860s H. F. Smith founded Lyndhurst, a station of a thousand sq. miles (2590 km² ) on the Einasleigh River, Queensland; Ettrick and Langwell stations were bought and in 1872 the firm acquired Kyogle station from Alex Mackellar. Barnes's ability as a practical manager and judge of cattle was unquestioned and under his skilful supervision three prize-winning herds were developed, Devons, Shorthorns and Herefords. Of these the shield-brand Herefords from the stud founded at Dyraaba in January 1855 were acknowledged to be the largest herd of pure Herefords in the southern hemisphere and won for Barnes & Smith Brothers an honoured place among the small band of pioneer stud-masters who established the beef-cattle industry in Australia.

The partnership was dissolved in 1880 and Barnes received Dyraaba and Stratheden stations, a portion of Ettrick, part interest in Lyndhurst, and a third of the cattle. He continued his breeding operations, adding a pure herd of Ayrshires for the Richmond River dairymen. Needing more land, he bought Bonalbo and Tabulam stations and an interest in Runnymede. In 1886 he bought H. F. Smith's share in the Hereford stud at Lyndhurst. He died at Dyraaba on 17 November 1896, survived by his wife Grace Isabella, née Hindmarsh, whom he had married at Grafton on 3 August 1857, and by five sons and five daughters. His estate was sworn for probate at £149,000.

Although Barnes's genius for instant recognition of 'the best of anything on four legs' was mainly responsible for his success as a stud-master, it was happily combined with a practical approach to all problems, a strong sense of honour and loyalty, and a complete lack of false pride.

Select Bibliography

  • L. T. Daley, Men and a River (Melb, 1966)
  • Clarence & Richmond Examiner, 9 Aug 1870, 25 July, 29 Aug 1871, 9 Mar 1878
  • Northern Star, 23 Oct 1886
  • A. J. McConnel, ‘Hereford history’, Queenslander, 2, 16 June, 14-28 July, 18 Aug, 15 Sept 1932
  • M. F. Bruxner, ‘Barnes' Herefords’, Bonalbo District News, 1 Oct 1948
  • W. Lyall, Harewood (Victoria), sale catalogue, 8 Nov 1869 (held at Dyraaba)
  • Barnes family papers (privately held).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Louise T. Daley, 'Barnes, Henry (1818–1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


6 February, 1818
Braithwaite, Cumberland, England


17 November, 1896 (aged 78)
Casino, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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